Recipe for the Perfect Finisher

Every superstar has one thing in common, they have to have a finishing move.  One of the first impressions we get from a wrestler is their finishing move.  It becomes one of the ways we know them.  Not only will they use it to finish a match, they use it regularly out of matches.  During in-ring segments and match interference, wrestlers will use their finishers as their go-to move.  It is part of the reason that generally wrestlers won’t have the same finishing move as another wrestler.  There are great finishers and there are definitely finishers that are lacking, to put it politely.  So what makes a finisher great? What makes a finisher look weak? Let’s break down the recipe!

1. Make sure you can do it to everyone!

So you have the perfect finisher, a giant press or slam that destroys your opponent! Man you look strong doing it, too! That is…until you have to pick up a guy who is just too big for you.  If you’re going to have a finisher where you have to pick up and possibly hold up your opponent, make damn sure you can do it to ANYONE.  This is ESPECIALLY important for WWE workers because Vince McMahon loves his big boys.  If you can’t lift everyone you better rethink your finisher.  Trying to lift someone who is too heavy and failing on live TV is going to make you look bad and possibly make you lose a push you’re getting.


2. Make it hurt!

stone cold blood

Or look like it anyway.  I see this problem a lot recently.  Wrestlers come in and they have a move that looks elaborate and fancy, but…it doesn’t look like it hurts!  That is the whole point of a finisher! A move that is so devastating to your opponent that they should not be able to kick out of a 3 count.  Xavier Woods has this problem with his current finisher.  He does a fancy front flip then spring boards into a weak clothesline.  His finisher looks flashy and cool, but it doesn’t look like it hurts!  The end result of his finisher is a clothesline that usually misses his mark or ends up looking like a punch to the shoulder.  Moves like the Pedigree, the RKO, Sweet Chin Music, KO Punch, Spear, Stone Cold Stunner, and Powerbomb all look painful!

3. Be able to hit it out of the blue

This isn’t necessarily a key ingredient to any finisher, but it is a key ingredient to the perfect finisher.  Some of the best moments in a big main event match come from a finisher that was hit completely out of nowhere.  Anyone remember the giant RKO Randy Orton delivered to Evan Bourne a few years back? Orton hit Bourne with the RKO while Bourne was mid Shooting Star Press.  It was an epic move to say the least. Shawn Michaels was the king of hitting his finisher out of anywhere.  He would hit the Sweet Chin Music when no one was expecting it and the fans would go nuts for it.  Randy Orton has taken over as the king of hitting his finisher when it isn’t expected.  Randy can and will hit the RKO anywhere at any time.  Roman Reigns is looking good recently, too.  His spear is both powerful and is delivered out of nowhere most times.  Even if the move might not be a quick move like the RKO or Superkick, you can still deliver it quickly.  John Cena is very good about hitting the Attitude Adjustment with speed when he wants to.


4.  Make sure you have time to pose for the cameras.

This may sound like a counter to my last point, but it is true.  Your move SHOULD be able to be hit out of the blue, but that doesn’t mean it has to.  Unfortunately, the E in WWE does stand for entertainment.  That means holding or posing for a minute just before delivering your finisher.  There is a reason that guys tend to do a “pose for the crowd” moment before finishers that don’t need it.  Look at Big Show, he does a KO Punch.  He has no reason to hold his fist up in the air to indicate he is going for the knockout, but he does for photos and hype.  Same with Randy Orton, he can hit his RKO whenever, wherever, but he will get down and pound the mat to let fans know it is coming. John Cena will hold the person he is about to hit with the Attitude Adjustment above his head for just a moment longer than he needs to so fans can snap a quick shot.  It is import to be able to pose for a picture and satisfy the fans.


A finisher is a wrestler’s signature in the ring, so make sure it is a good one. If you can’t perform your finisher on anyone, you could be in trouble when a big man comes your way.  All flash and no substance will come off making you look bad.  Hitting a big move out of nowhere can get you serious points with the audience and officials backstage.  Then again, as Edge and Christian have taught us, the fans love a 5 second pose, so make sure to give your fans a moment to snap that picture.  Make sure you follow these rules and you will have the perfect finishing move.

  • Ty

    DDP in my eyes was the first person to have that perfect “connection out of nowhere”. The RKO followed that tradition because it’s basically the same move. Gotta remember, HBK didn’t really start with the surprise factor with SCM until later in his career as during his prime he would “tune up the band.”

    • zkrasney

      It's true, DDP really had great moments with the Diamond Cutter. I think he inspired a lot of wrestlers to start hitting moves out of the blue.

  • Ty

    I totally agree with #2. I had to shake my head everytime John Morrison hit “starship pain” for the win.

    • Zack Krasney

      It is funny you mention that because I ALMOST wrote that one into number two. R-Truth’s spinning elbow is the same.

    • Dare

      Starship pain wasn’t great. Rob Van Dam’s split legged moonsault looks a lot better and more impactful and it isn’t even his finisher. Seth Rollins blackout looks painful.

      • Zack Krasney

        The split-leg moonsault, to me, just looked like it hurt RVD just as much. Just the impact to the inner thighs! Ouch!

  • Ed

    I frankly have an issue with Mick Foley's mandible claw. What would keep his opponent from simply biting down on his digits as he's applying it? I know the line is "we'll just say their mouths are paralyzed so they can't" but that's not true. As much as I bag on Christian, I like his "kill switch". It has enough stall in it to look ominous, yet when he hits it, it looks like it could hurt.

    Oh, and another thing. The finish should have a cool name. "The Diamond Cutter", "The Big Ending", "The RKO", "Sweet Chin Music", and the aforementioned "Kill Switch" (the best of all in my opinion) all have cool names. Gotta have a cool name to market, right?

    • Zack Krasney

      Absolutely, a good name can do wonders. Cody Rhodes “crossroads” is a great name, too.

      • Ty

        and even though it’s not his finisher beautiful disaster has a nice ring to it

        • zkrasney

          That it does! Oh a good one I remembered, the Hell's Gate.

          • Ty

            also, a simple name but it gets the job done: F5

          • zkrasney

            Especially because of the motion that Lesnar's opponent goes through

    • Chris

      But remember that the Kill Switch WAS the Unprettier before. New name is MUCH better on that one.

      • zkrasney

        So very true. Kill Switch>Unprettier.

  • King A sshole

    The Von Erich Iron Claw holds a special place in my heart as the best finisher, and not just because I'm from Dallas. It had that great appeal that it could be applied anybody from Andre the Giant and Crusher Stasiak to smaller guys like Verne Gagne and Mr. Perfect, and be effective on all of them. It's just one of those moves that works if a guy had the strength in his right hand, (and the Von Erich's had it), that you believed it could hurt somebody. Beyond that, its really hard for me to put any other finisher in the same category.

    • zkrasney

      King, you're going old school on me! I thoroughly enjoyed the Iron Claw and I feel like a lot of people since have tried to replicate it some how and it just never works the same.

  • xxdayoffatexx

    Bam Bam Bigelow's Greetings from Asbury Park was one of my favorites.

    • zkrasney

      Another great finisher! One of the more original moves I've ever seen, too.